Critter Encounters at Bowditch Point

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06112011610-Bowditch-wildlife-signageThis post will pick up where Wilderness At Bowditch Point left off. We’re on a field trip with my Florida Master Naturalist class (Coastal Systems Module), and we’ve got a really great guide named Roger Clark, from Lee County, Florida’s Conservation 20/20 program.

After telling us about a few of the plants and trees that we found growing on the perimeter of the parking lot, Roger led us up the man-made hill at the very northern tip of Estero Island aka Fort Myers Beach. Once on top of the hill, we saw a prominent “KEEP OUT” sign posted on a split-rail fence. Almost immediately, it became apparent that we were in for a critter encounter!


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If you are looking for a gopher tortoise burrow, here’s how to spot one – just look around for a heap of sand that looks like an ant hill on steroids. The ones I’ve seen come complete with a hole that’s partially obscured by brush. I don’t know if that’s intentional, or just one giant co-inky-dink.

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A female gopher tortoise contemplates jumping the fence.


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Whut-oh! Stand back, she’s on the move!


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She’s getting pretty close – Immma-skeered! :shock:


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Oh. Em. Gee! She passed very close to me. I got up and moved to the other side of a tree and turned on the video camera …

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This tortoise had a single-minded mission to leave her burrow and head into a scrub area, and no wildlife geek with a camera in her hand was going to stop her! I can’t believe I moved out of her path, and then she headed right for me anyway. You can hear one of my classmates coaching me (translation: playing with my head a bit) about how vicious these animals can be :D You can also hear him say “no” when I ask if I should move. In the end, I was running out of options to keep the lens on her and had to stand up to avoid becoming a pretzel. You can also hear scrub jays screaming in the background about the time I stand up.

After the official part of the field trip was over, I doubled back over the route we’d taken so I could get some better shots of the plants that had been discussed. As I came up the hill, I spied this little tableau:

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At first, I thought this osprey had an extra tail, or maybe one of her feathers was coming loose.

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Now we see that it’s definitely a tail, but it’s not hers. It’s lunch! I think this is what they call “mantling” behavior, where they hunch over their food so that nothing flying overhead will see it and try to compete for it.

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She’s really got an impressive profile, with a beak made for tearing. “I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille.” ;)

There will be one more installment of this Florida Master Naturalist field trip adventure in the very near future – so stay tuned! :)

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  7 comments for “Critter Encounters at Bowditch Point

  1. June 30, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    A turtle sighting!! Awesome. I’d love to see one up close like that.

  2. *1L
    June 30, 2011 at 11:47 pm

    How cool is that! The tortoise and the osprey. All in one day.

  3. July 2, 2011 at 9:33 am

    Cool sighting of the tortoise. They are neat looking critters. Lov ethe osprey too. Great shots.

  4. July 2, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    nice shots

  5. July 2, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    The turtle was waving to you in that last photo. Love it! =D

    Living So Abundantly: New meme this coming Thursday, July 7, 2011, Give Back Thursday–come join the fun!

  6. July 3, 2011 at 12:35 am

    Cool shots…

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